“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.”
-Barbara De Angelis
Following are some portions taken from Gauri's blog...who is she? no idea ....saw this blog entry ..read it and identified with it and thats why it is here...i have always enjoyed solitude and got rejuvinated but my need for solitude has always met with raised eyebrows .Most ppl dont realize that we women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of ourselves ...we need this time to repair ourselves from that wear and tear of daily life.
When I was a young girl growing up, at a time when most women were housewives, my mother was a working woman. She worked as a teacher, and the piles of test papers that she brought home for correction ensured that her job spilled over into evenings and weekends as well. My father traveled a lot, which meant that most of the time my mother had to be a single parent to my brother and me. It also meant that she had to take care of what she termed "outside" work: getting leaky taps fixed, standing in line to pay electricity bills, and so on.
My mother had no shortage of tasks to put on a to-do list - if she had ever been inclined to make one; but she did have a shortage of leisure – or any time that she could call her own. And then one day, when I was thirteen, my father announced that he was taking the family for a week’s holiday.
"Where do you want to go?" he asked my mother. "Ooty, Goa, Kodai…?"
My mother hesitated. "I was thinking…" she said. "Could you take the kids somewhere… anywhere… for just five or six days? I want to be home alone – all by myself - with nobody to cook for and nobody to look after."
My brother and I gaped at her, our mouths falling open. This was not what mothers were supposed to say.
Being the elder sibling, I dared to speak up. "You want us to go somewhere for five or six days? My friends’ mothers get bored when their kids go to school for five or six hours. They miss their kids like anything."
"Is that what they told you?" my mother asked,straightfaced.
"Then what? They were saying the house comes to eat them when their kids are not at home."
"Stop that at once! I will not have you speaking such nonsensical English," said my mother the school teacher, more offended by my crimes against the English language than my accusations about her non-maternal behavior.
"But she’s right." My father spoke in my defence. "How can you…I mean which mother wants to… I don’t think any wife ever…" He stopped, shaking his head in the way he did when he was baffled.
My mother put her hand on his arm. "It’s not that I…" she began, her gaze moving from my dad to my brother and me before reverting to my dad. "It’s just that… sometimes… I …" My usually articulate mother fumbled to a halt. We waited – confident now that she would back down.
Our complacency must have shown because suddenly her back straightened and a headmistressy glint came into the eyes that she fixed on us. "I need to be alone," she articulated, the words strung together on a thread of steel.
My brother and I exchanged glances. We knew that tone of voice. My father knew it too. There was no more discussion.
The upshot of our non-discussion was that my brother and I accompanied my father to my aunt’s place in Pune. There we spent a week with our cousins, guzzling sugarcane juice at the bamboo-framed roadside stalls that dotted the city, inhaling tear-inducingly spicy pani-puri at the bhaiyya’s cart down the lane, and trekking over the local tekdis (hills) to work off the pounds we’d acquired as a result of my aunt’s culinary skills.
When we returned home, I thought my mother looked different – the lines between her eyebrows had almost disappeared and her mouth flowed in a sweeter curve. She looked fresher and somehow younger - like the women in magazines did after they had used some brand or the other of face cream. I said as much to her. She laughed at that and her eyes, as she ruffled my hair, were just a little mischievous. "Solitude works wonders," she said. And I looked back at her frowning, trying to figure out what she meant.
At thirteen, I had not heard of Thoreau or his views on solitude. And even if I had, I don’t know that I would have agreed with him. As a child, I was not given to reflection or introspection and, consequently, equated solitude with loneliness. But the light in my mother’s eyes suggested otherwise. It told me that she had been neither lonely nor depressed during the week when she had been home alone.
The idea that you could be solitary but not lonely, teased me with its seeming contradiction.
In my mid and late teens, I became pre-occupied with exploring my inner landscape and began actively seeking out solitude. Some of my friends hated to be alone; it brought them face-to-face with their fears and inadequacies.
The teenage years are long gone now but the love of solitude has stayed. Today, with a family of my own and myriad "outside" responsibilities, finding time for myself becomes yet another task to jot down and check off on my to-do list
Sometimes I walk at night, and when I look at up the dark, velvet immensity I feel all the issues that are bothering me shrink into insignificance. My only pre-occupation then is connecting, with a forefinger, the dots of light in Orion’s belt, or trying to identify the Great Bear and some of the more common constellations that sequin the night sky.
I don’t know why tiny frogs and large constellations should help me to resolve issues wholly unconnected with either. But I do know that I return from these walks, from my communion with Nature, calmed and strengthened and somehow better able to deal with the problems that I have held at bay for the duration of the walk.
And then there are times when I need to commune with myself – especially when the issues are sensitive, emotional ones. I do this when I am driving; when I’m alone in the car, with nobody to talk to and nothing to look at apart from traffic lights or other vehicles.
In solitude, I am able to extricate my arguments from the morass of emotions in which they have gotten mired, clean them off and examine them with dispassionate eyes. And with no one around to judge, I am able to admit aloud to mistakes that I might have made – or endorse decisions that I believe are the right ones. I find that at the end of the car ride, I am able to take a more balanced, reasoned view of things.
In the rush-hour existence that many of us lead today, I believe that a few minutes of solitude in a day is a necessary pit stop. I would argue that solitude helps us connect with ourselves and re-charge our batteries. That in effect, it refreshes and rejuvenates us.
Of course, how we celebrate these moments of solitary splendor is up to us. Some of us may choose to read, paint or listen to music. Some might opt for a trek in the wilderness. Others might be content to lie on a hillside and watch the clouds go by. And yet others might just need to stay home alone.